Panthers NCAA prospects update

By Ian Bross

Ryan Watson, LW/C

Western Michigan University, Freshman
7th rd, 191st overall, 2007 Entry Draft

A MWJHL all-star last season, Watson has taken a more humble role in his first year in the NCAA. The native of Cambridge, Ontario joined his older brother, Cam Watson, at Western Michigan University. Though his single-digit point total of 8 through 26 games isn’t particularly impressive, among his teammates, Watson is noted for his consistency and versatility. 

Watson is capable of playing both at center and on the wing, and is also even utilized at times as a defenseman on the penalty kill. It was there, in fact, where he tallied the team’s only shorthanded goal of the season.

Matt Rust, C

University of Michigan, Freshman
4th rd, 101st overall, 2007 Draft

Before entering college, Matt Rust starred on the international stage with Team USA. There, he won back-to-back silver medals in consecutive years: first, in the IIHF World Under-17 Championship, and more recently, in the Under-18 Championship.

At 5’10 180 lbs, what Rust lacks in size, he makes up for in speed. Rust has managed 10 goals and eight assists in 27 games, good enough for sixth on the Wolverines in total points. 

Rust also has some grit; not afraid to play on the edge, he ranks second on the team in penalties, and first in total penalty minutes, averaging 2.12 penalty minutes per game.

Zach Bearson, RW

University of Wisconsin, Sophomore
7th rd, 224th overall, 2005 Entry Draft

Now in his second year at Wisconsin, Zach Bearson has yet to make his mark at the NCAA level.  Bearson skated in a mere five games last season as the result of illness. This season, Bearson has been out of action all but one game as a coach’s decision. Not surprisingly, he is without any points in his career to date. 

Though he doesn’t possess great size, Bearson is considered to have power-forward potential. And like most power forwards, the progress of Bearson’s development has been slow. As one of many Badger underclassmen at the forward position, rather than simply inherit playing time, Bearson will have to earn it.

Matt Duffy, D

University of Maine, Junior
4th rd, 104th overall, 2005 Entry Draft

A mainstay on the Maine blueline, Duffy has continued to steadily improve, now, in his third year in the NCAA.

Currently, as a defenseman no less, Duffy ranks third on the Black Bears in goals with five. In doing so, he has already matched his total from the previous season, when he scored the entirety of his goals on the power play. Duffy also leads the team in game-winning goals with two.  In total, he has seven points in 22 games.

But the key part of Duffy’s game is physical play. With added weight to his 6’2 frame, the hard-hitting defender is now tipping the scales at just over 200 lbs, making him, now, an even more dangerous threat than ever before.

Derrick LaPoint, D

University of North Dakota, Freshman
4th rd, 116th overall, 2006 Entry Draft

Last year, LaPoint ranked second among all USHL defensemen in his first and only season with the Green Bay Gamblers, totaling 49 points. This year however, the points have not come as easily.

Perhaps the most highly touted of all the Panthers NCAA prospects, he hasn’t made a big splash statistically in his freshman season at North Dakota. LaPoint has scored two goals and three assists this season in 20 games with the Fighting Sioux. He also ranks fifth among his defensive counterparts in plus/minus with a fair +2.

With good hands, LaPoint is a capable stick handler and passer to go with his 6’3 180 lb frame. In time, LaPoint will have the chance to play a key role at UND.

Luke Beaverson, D

University of Alaska-Anchorage, Senior
9th rd, 283rd overall, 2004 Entry Draft

Entering his finale campaign at UAA, defenseman Luke Beaverson is coming off of the best performance of his career.

After putting up five goals and four assists for nine points as a junior, however, Beaverson appears to have reverted back to his familiar self, with only one assist thus far in 22 games played. But Beaverson is most comfortable staying at home; with his imposing size and stature, defense certainly takes precedence over offense for the 6’5 228 lb senior from St. Paul, MN.

Though his offensive contributions have slowed, Beaverson continues to play a prominent and important role on a low-scoring Seawolves team, logging lots of ice time, as well as killing penalties.

Marc Cheverie, G

University of Denver, Freshman
7th rd, 193rd overall, 2006 Entry Draft

After posting 23 wins and nine losses and helping backstop the Nanaimo Clippers to a BCHL championship in 2006-07, Cheverie’s aspirations of a similar accomplishment with Denver have been put on hold.

The late-round draft pick from last season’s entry draft has only made one appearance between the pipes as a starter, and three in relief, behind senior Peter Mannino. Cheverie has not yet been afforded a significant opportunity to demonstrate his quickness and athleticism on the collegiate stage.  He has a .895 save percentage and 2.31 GAA.

Brian Foster, G

University of New Hampshire, Sophomore
5th rd, 161st overall, 2005 Entry Draft

Foster’s freshman year at UNH, where he assumed the role of backup to Kevin Regan (BOS), was an up-and-down one. Foster started in four games, of which he won two, both coming by shutout.

Now a sophomore, Foster’s apparent lack of consistency has become increasingly problematic. Having recently surpassed his number of games started last season (307 minutes), the 20 year-old’s statistics are not as good.

Compared to last season: GAA up from 2.21 to 3.52 and save percentage down from .933 to .883. With Regan and third-stringer Stuart Fricke both in their senior year, Foster will need to improve to take over the mantle next year.